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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Switzer Community Garden

I stopped off here the other night when I saw some folks there working in the evening.

The Switzer Community Garden is, in my not remotely humble opinion, the best of class among KC's community gardens. There's one by the new Kauffman center that is more high tech, but unless you're talking Mission Hills (where the Kauffmans lived), most communities lack the resources to do most of that stuff.

This garden, though, it's in the West Side neighborhood and it's not operated by any pharmaceutical robber barons.

I was impressed by the rain barrels. Both because they're pretty (this garden does more artsy fartsy stuff than the usual, probably a lot of why I think they're the best garden in town), but also because they were still watering the beds from rain collected in these barrels off an impossibly small shed roof.

This is rain that fell before the worst drought to plague our region in decades. They still have some of that rain to water their crops, so take note you Army Corps characters. We may need to do this on a wider scale, and soon.

I was also impressed by the bee hive. I've kept bees, it's like having thousands of high maintenance girlfriends who throw stuff at you when you're only trying to help. Well, like that but without sex.

I still have honey I mean to make into mead from my last crop, 2002. I do still have a huge soft spot for the hobby, or agribusiness or whatever you want to call it. Still have my protective gear and my copy of The Hive & The Honey Bee.

I guess what I lack is enthusiasm for backbreaking, hotter than hell work with minimal rewards that's like as not to sick the neighborhood association on you to boot.

The only bright spot is most of the nay-sayers and don't-dos have no idea they're looking at a hive when they see these white boxes.

Most of them will claim to be allergic to bee stings, but people who say this are often only 'allergic' if you count dislike or fear as an allergic reaction. There haven't been wild honeybees running around since late last century, and tame or wild, none of them give a shit about people unless we're pulling the lid off their house to steal their food. Even 'Africanized' bees won't seek you out and sting you just to be dicks.

Anyway, the gesticulating woman in the bright plaid shirt is one of the people that made this garden happen. She shies away from accusations of being in charge.

She doesn't hold back on her enthusiasm for the whole project. She wanted to make sure I knew about the bees, about how they'd re-queened the colony lately, chickens and whatnot they had down below.

Every once in awhile I meet someone who is truly a pillar of their community, and this woman (Marcelle?—I think that's what I heard) seems to be exactly that. Someone with the energy and interest to truly expand what's possible in a neighborhood, who gets people to do what they wouldn't otherwise do and do it cheerfully.

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